Profile: Judith Richards Hope '64

Judith Richards Hope

In her career combining practice and public service, Judith Richards Hope expertly navigates two complex worlds: the legal-political epicenter of Washington, D.C., and the international academic community of Harvard.

Today Hope is Senior Counsel to Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker, an international law firm based in Los Angeles and New York. In 1981, she became a founder of the firm’s Washington office and joined in leading its remarkable growth. In 1989 she was chosen as the first woman ever appointed to the seven-person Harvard Corporation, the University’s senior governing body.

During more than 30 years of practice, Hope has earned acclaim as a specialist in trial and appellate advocacy before courts throughout the United States. She also has a flourishing practice representing CEOs on diverse corporate issues and multinational corporations on complex matters pending before the federal government.

"As corporations become more international, so do their problems, and I’ve moved right along with them," she notes. "I’ve become much more of an international lawyer." Recently, the United States Commissioner General of the World’s Fair 2000 in Hannover, Germany, first asked her to represent and then to lead the Foundation raising funds and providing services for U.S. involvement in the Fair.

While her practice often takes her abroad, Hope is first and foremost a Washington lawyer, adept at representing clients before the federal courts, Congress, and federal regulatory bodies. Her insider knowledge deepened when she served under President Ford as Associate Director of the White House Domestic Council, and under President Reagan as Vice Chair of the President’s Commission on Organized Crime.

Hope is a litigator by "training and temperament," but her clients also rely on her talent for settling cases through mediation and ADR, which she considers a natural outgrowth of trial work. She is regularly appointed as a mediator by the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Hope’s extensive Harvard duties bring her to Cambridge twice each month. In addition to chairing the Inspection Committee, she serves on the Board of Harvard Medical International, which "is reaching around the world to places where Harvard expertise in medicine can be of use."

The trailblazing graduate of Defiance, Ohio, public schools and Wellesley College is dedicated to making sure "all doors are open to women at Harvard": in the classrooms, on the faculties, in athletics. As a cochair of Celebration 45, honoring HLS women, Hope is leading fundraising efforts.

She recalls her experience as one of 15 HLS women in a class with 550-plus men: "I thought the School treated the women just like the men, and sometimes that was pretty rough. But we had a brilliant and, despite the roughness, a caring faculty. They taught us not to buckle in the heat of battle, and toughened our minds."

In seeking her ?rst legal job, Hope received dozens of letters from firms stating they didn’t hire woman lawyers. She persevered, confident that HLS "gave me a special edge: great training and an ability to fight for clients." After graduation, the 23-year-old lawyer walked in off the street and got a job at Williams & Connolly in Washington as their 12th lawyer—the first from Harvard. "I had the good fortune to be trained as a trial lawyer by the legendary Edward Bennett Williams," she says.

Although Hope has thrived in the rough-and-tumble of practice, she is disturbed by the "lack of civility" in the legal profession today. Hope, who has taught law at four universities, including HLS, supports the Law School’s efforts to foster in students the highest standards of professional conduct. "Not only is it important for lawyers to remain people of honor," says Hope,"they should also perform public service. Lawyers have special talents, and therefore special obligations."